No, you don't see news from Rheem, the vacuum and household appliance people, too much on our site. But you may in the future, as the company emerges as one of a growing number of advocates for solar water heaters.
In these systems, water is heated by solar rays directly from a tank on the roof--a common practice in Spain or Israel--or panels on the roof can conduct energy to a basement heater, as in Rheem's products. (See photo of jolly salesman.)
The basement versions are less obtrusive because the panels fit into the roofline of a house. The roof-stationed Israeli water heaters, by contrast, give the home a sort of "Petticoat Junction" meets "Mad Max" ambience. (See other grainy photo).
Solar water heaters are fairly efficient and were used in Berkeley and Florida during the 1920s. "There is a lot more thermal energy in sunlight than electricity," said Chris Beekhuis from Fat Spaniel Technologies, an energy efficiency company which is helping set up a solar laundromat in Canada. "In Los Angeles, all hot water came from (solar) thermal heaters until the 1920s" before the utility companies switched them to electric.
(Photos: Michael Kanellos/CNET Networks)